Reihan Salam At Reuters: ‘Online Education Can Be Good Or Cheap, But Not Both’

Full piece here.

More on MOOC’s, or Massive Online Open Courses:

‘Tyler Cowen, the George Mason University economist and co-founder of Marginal Revolution University, a popular massive online open course, has argued that U.S. higher education institutions already reach the easiest students to teach (the “low-hanging fruit”), and so efforts to expand higher education access means reaching students who either face serious obstacles to graduating or who are otherwise less inclined to stick around.’


‘I have no doubt that online education is going to get better over time, and that innovators at places like edX and Udacity will find ways to better combine labor and technology in ways that will help contain higher education costs. But we shouldn’t expect miracles. Somehow we need to come up with better ways of engaging the large number of young Americans who aren’t destined to complete a bachelor’s degree, and who might need less in the way of help and hassle when they’re being offered real-world, job-specific skills. Until then, be very skeptical of anyone who promises that online education is going to make it much cheaper to educate struggling students.’

No easy fixes?

Some people learn much more quickly than others, and some have learned how to learn.  Some are dedicated and driven, and some have not ever put forth much effort.  Some have specific natural aptitudes and some simply don’t, while others have aptitudes that they’ve already developed by the time they reach a learning environment.  A few may have aptitudes they didn’t know they had.

A lot of people will need some sort of knowledge or certification right now.  A lot of people will need to learn more about a subject for their jobs on someone’s dime with skin in the game, which is often a challenge for good teachers.   This is why I don’t think free-market solutions will entirely work for education, but could help break the logjam of entrenched interests, inefficiency, and waste in our public education system, and help with the rising costs of higher ed and the unsustainable student-loan debt.

Technology won’t be a panacea, but I still think some of the core education mission is technologically portable enough to shake up the old model.  That’s the hope anyways.

Related On This Site: Update And Repost-Mark Cuban From His Blog: ‘The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better Any Time Soon’Diane Ravitch At Education Week: ‘Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost’

Analagous to old media? What to change and what to keepFrom The Arnoldian Project: ‘Architecture, Campus, And Learning To Become’

Should you get a college degree, probably, but you also probably shouldn’t lose sight of why you’re going and divorce yourself entirely from the cost:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

Update And Repost-Mark Cuban From His Blog: ‘The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better Any Time Soon’

Full post here.

‘Its far too easy to borrow money for college.  Did you know that there is more outstanding debt for student loans than there is for Auto Loans or Credit Card loans ? Thats right. The 37mm holders of student loans have more debt than the 175mm or so credit card owners in this country and more than the all of the debt on cars in this country. While the average student loan debt is about 23k. The median is close to $12,500. And growing. Past 1 TRILLION DOLLARS.’

Perhaps there won’t be a meltdown, but current debt levels probably can’t be sustained.  Technology, global competition and various other factors are putting pressure on higher education in the U.S, and forcing it to change.

It still seems as though a promise and a wish this past century we Americans have had for ourselves has been extended as far as it will go (education and opportunity for all).  There are a lot of people whose livelihood depends upon keeping things the way they are.


As Clayton Christensen argues in the startupgrind video below, universities have competed together to move upmarket, with rock walls, high-end facilities, and more and more amenities.  All the while, they’ve been getting heavier on management and administration.  Christensen suggests that newer business models are utilizing technology at their core, and training people on the job for specific skills.  This is seriously undercutting the old university model.

I find myself thinking of this misalignment (straying from the core educational mission, overpromising, the end of an era?) when I see splashy diversity-laden brochure photos, and huge athletic programs hyped as the faces of university life.  Costs keep going up and the value of many degrees keeps going down.

Perhaps there is a correlation with other overall trends in our society to run museums like businesses, the competition between the private and public sectors,  the growth of the ‘meritocracy’ and Washington D.C. and our continually growing government as well.  Perhaps I’m overhyping it myself, but the ‘greatness’ model is under serious stress.

Will half of universities be in bankruptcy in a few decades?  How much will technology disrupt education?


Interesting times.  What have venture capitalists got right, and what might they be missing?

What has really changed regarding human nature?

Related On This Site: Should you get a college degree?:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.

A deeper look at what education “ought” to be A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Nothing that Allan Bloom didn’t point out in the Closing Of The American Mind, at least with regard to a true liberal arts education: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Perhaps some of the problem is due to the ideological interests holing up at our universities; at least in the liberal arts: Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?From The Harvard Educational Review-